Wages and Salaries Just Hit Their Highest Level in a Decade — Could That Be a Good Sign for Retail?

A strong jobs market has helped lead the charge in the country’s economic recovery, with wages and salaries hitting their highest level in a decade.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wages and salaries for private-sector employees rose 3.1 percent in the third quarter. Civilian workers, on the other hand, received a 2.9 percent pay bump, while state and local government workers saw a gain of 2.3 percent — all for the 12-month period ending September.

It marks the strongest year-over-year gain since the second quarter of 2008 before the stock market crash. The economy has seen wages remain slack despite noting growth in labor force participation and overall employment. Last month, the Labor Department reported that the United States added 134,000 jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to 3.7 percent, its lowest point since 1969.

Along with stable hiring, an advance in wages and salaries can persuade workers to demand higher compensation as well as put pressure on major companies across many industries, including retail, to offer better pay.

The sector was put in that position last month when e-commerce leader Amazon announced that it was raising the minimum wage to $15 for all employees across the U.S. The increase, which also applies to Whole Foods and other Amazon subsidiaries, goes into effect today.

In September, the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates for the third time this year. Another rate hike is expected in December.

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